Osaka’s The Creams put on one of the better live sets in the Kansai region today, playing the sort of dance-rock that seems like it was plotted out on graph paper in the vein of 1980’s cool kids such as Liquid Liquid or ESG. Yet on stage, The Creams round out their music with a sense of menace and unpredictability, bringing to mind Japanese peer Miila And The Geeks (who they have appropriately opened for).
“Panache,” the quartet’s debut CD, comes off as sort of a surprise — this brief release plays it more loose and fun than the live version of The Creams, like seeing the more playful side of a boxer.
“Panache” reveals The Creams’ biggest influence as being The Slits, with every song on this 16-minute album taking cues from that English outfit. Opener “House” makes the influence clear, setting lockstep postpunk sound against more free-spirited singing, each line of the song punctuated by unintelligible hollering. “Funky” isn’t quite as vocally daring — the track revolves around the bumper-sticker-ready observation “You can’t be funky if you haven’t got a soul” — but the screechy guitar and pointed bass playing come closest to replicating The Creams’ live experience on “Panache.” The singing, though, does end up being the most important touch to this band’s sound, as when they go instrumental on “Jungle” it feels like pure filler.
The centerpiece of “Panache” is “Let’s,” a five-minute cotton-candy groove imploring “Boys and girls/Let’s party together.” When they play this one live, it sticks out as a bit too bubbly compared to the sharper stuff around it, but it is the soul of “Panache,” an airy hip-mover that oozes positivity. “Panache” could stand to bare a few more teeth like the band does in concert, but The Creams’ debut manages to stand as a fun introduction to a very capable group.